Metal 3D printing – wire-based additive manufacturing of metallic components

We provide support in developing processes for wire 3D printing with a particular focus on material-specific aspects

Additive-manufacturing methods promise almost unlimited design freedom, short production times, low production costs and production processes that are sparing in their use of resources. They are increasingly being used to supplement established manufacturing methods.

Metal 3D printing using WAAM technology is suitable for the rapid production of large and complex components from expensive materials, for example, saving on valuable material and time required for elaborate machining.

Time is saved in production thanks to “tool-less manufacturing”, which does away with special equipment for casting, forming and joining processes. Spare parts can be printed as blanks and subjected to additional processing as soon as they are required. This saves additional costs for the procurement of source materials in block form. The major potential of wire-based metal 3D printing is in the field of one-off and small-batch production and in the manufacture of spare parts. With the wire-based approach, component sizes are larger than for components produced via the powder-bed method.

We analyse and evaluate your WAAM process

We offer support with the analysis and evaluation of the WAAM method for high-strength steels and nickel-based alloys, including:

  • Advice: technological and financial aspects of implementation for your applications
  • Creation of process maps: material- and geometry-dependent welding parameters
  • Process quality assurance: strategies for additional use of sensors, for assessing process stability through to subsequent quality assurance
  • Material development for WAAM
  • Material suitability testing with subsequent material testing and material analysis

We investigate WAAM-influencing variables with respect to:

Process definition
  • Welding material (available on the market or new development)
  • Process parameters
    • Welding parameters
    • Protective gas
    • Machine parameters
  • Quality assurance
    • Thermography
    • Metallography
    • Radiographic testing
    • 3D measurement
  • Oversize and mechanical finishing
  • Heat treatment
  • Geometry (form deviations)
  • Homogeneity and deviations
  • Material properties
    • Metallurgy
    • Microstructure
    • Mechanical and technological characterisation
Are you looking for advice on how to use WAAM to resolve your particular situation?

Metal 3D printing at Nordmetall: Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing

We use the WAAM method to weld the wire-based source material, layer by layer or bead by bead, into the desired shape.

This technology is similar to the deposition-welding approach.

For metal 3D printing, we use the cold metal transfer (CMT) method, a special form of gas–metal arc welding (GMAW) that ensures a very stable arc and low heat input. The arc at the welding electrode melts the metal wire and builds up the raw form of the workpiece drop by drop; the welding wire is deliberately guided back and forth during this process.


Metal 3D printing using arc-welded wire has many advantages over powder-based metal 3D printing methods:

Greater workplace safety that is easier to implement

Robust processes

Higher deposition or build-up rate

Capable of making larger components

Lower material costs, reduced system costs

Ease of storage

Wider selection of materials

The metal wire has a diameter of between 0.6 mm and 1.8 mm, and can be processed at speeds of up to 20 m/s. Depending on material, we achieve build-up rates of 1.6-4 kg/h, or 600-900 cm³/h.

Application-specific material development: the best wire for metal 3D printing

Based on our practical experience, we have developed a welding wire that has good mechanical and technical properties, is easy to weld and very cost effective.

Metal 3D printing using the 3DMP® method

Another manufacturing method we use is the 3DMP® (3D metal printing) method developed by Gefertec. The associated CAM software divides the components into layers and creates a plan for manufacturing the metal part using the 3DMP® method.

Quality assurance for the metal 3D printing manufacturing process

Our experts are working on the question of how they can design and effectively monitor the process parameters to ensure flawless components that reliably withstand the high stresses (static, dynamic impact and fatigue) on safety-critical components. We are continually working to extend and improve the process.